Aaron Michael’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Florida Project is the kind of movie that, from the very first frame, feels full to the brim with a profound empathy and stirring feeling. In telling the story from the point of view of a seven year old, it takes on a tone that feels close to magic realism.
The first hour plays out with a youthful energy that feels aimless or even haphazard, but the second hour slowly reveals the subtly disguised purposefulness of the story Baker is telling. It's done with remarkable precision and nuance that continues reveals itself to the audience long after they leave the theater.
The movie is, of course, gorgeous. It's like candyland come to life, full of color, excitement, and *life* that films about poor people so often lack. We're conditioned to view the spaces that the film inhabits as shameful and yet Baker finds their beauty and allows us to revel in it.
There's plenty to be said about the way the film ends, but I'll just say that I found it abrupt, but ultimately moving in the way that it ups the ante on the film's use of magical realism. How lovely that it intertwines magical realism with The Most Magical Place on Earth™.....
The Florida Project once more solidifies Baker's directorial style and narrative interests. I can see how critics might make claims of "class tourism" but Baker's style is so goddamn empathetic that I don't see those claims as convincing.
Child actors are a risk, yet Brooklyn Prince is a rare find that flourishes from scene one. Willem Dafoe infuses his supporting role with such an affecting compassion and demonstrable inner tension that makes him compelling to watch.